CHAPTER ONE: EROS.
I’m back at it again. It’s not the second time, as a matter of fact, not even the third time I am changing my job in a month. It’s the fifth!
It’s time for me to choose something insane, something my parents would never ever agree on. Something they will never even know about! Sure, I could be a stripper, that would mean not being home during the night and it would also mean being half-naked in front of strangers. The perfect job to prove to my religious mother and extremely controlling father that at 21 years old there is nothing you can do to prevent your daughter from screwing her life up. Of course, they will never know but in the back of my mind, I will have this satisfaction that when they sleep at night, I dance half-naked in front of all sorts of people. Sure, it could work if dancing was even a concept I would understand! And I said dancing, not jumping up and down at a club where I can’t even go because my parents are like owls whenever I want to leave the nights. Hence, another reason why the stripper option wouldn't work. What century are we leaving in?
I need a job that pays well, one that will make me gain enough money to pay my study fees and rent a place. Although this is just a dream of mine. My parents told me I must live with them until I get married. Again, are we leaving back when women had no rights? Mind you, I can’t even marry whoever I want, if that were the case, I’d be married already with someone who I will secretly divorce later. They want me to marry some doctor my father knows, Ramon Finn. I groan at the thought of that man.
As I look through some newspapers and websites, I spot a salary that initially assumed it was the phone number. It instantly strikes my interest. The perfect sum! I could run away from Portland forever. Maybe run away from America! I dial the phone number without even reading anything about the job description and after two rings there’s an answer.
“Jane Patrick speaking. How may I help you?” a dead-serious voice speaks at the other end.
“Um... Alissa Archer here. Calling to apply for a job I found in the newspaper, as a ...” I panic for a second and look down at the newspaper, trying to find out the job title “maid at the Hayden Mansion?!” shock overcame me when the word ‘maid’ escaped my mouth. Am I really applying to clean some house?! I’m 21, my dream is to be a stripper as a payback to my parents. How is this a payback?
“Oh, the maid...That’s out for quite a while now.” She says, disappointing me a little as the pay is to die for. The only reason I didn’t hang up already.
“That’s fine, I understand if you found someone by now,” I respond, noticing that I was looking at last month’s newspaper. What did you expect, Alissa?
“No, in fact, we just fired one this morning Ms. Archer. You have good timing! Still interested?” she sounds less serious now, in fact, there is friendliness in her voice. That’s what desperation does to people.
“You’re joking!” realizing what just came out of my mouth, I lightly slap my forehead, “I mean, yes ma’am, still interested.” Who wouldn’t be when you’re paid so much?
The woman giggles, which surprised me, she isn’t doubting me yet, “Any experience?”
“Cleaning? Don’t worry, you’ve got yourself an expert. You can call me Cinderella.” My sarcasm is obvious, I think. While still true that the title fits me well since my parents keep me locked away from the fun and assume I am free to do any housework whenever they see me without books, the sarcasm mightn’t have been the best choice as she is now serious again. Who needs experience to clean a house, anyway?
“Ms. Archer, this job is not like any other job. Mr. Hayden is a difficult man with a lot of rules in his house. You can’t even move a photo one centimeter away from its initial spot! If you want this job you must be serious about it. The majority of maids lose their job within 72 hours, are you willing to give it a go?” A total maniac! Who even notices these things? The sound of that is almost scaring me away but the pay is luring me to accept the job. So, I do, and she gives me the information and says that I will be on a one-week probation but if I mess up too much within 72 hours, they will let me go. Let’s see you now, Cinderella!
Gideon is late for our first law lecture this week. I am alone in a hall where I could spot people I hate and people I could murder. Mike, my lecturer, is once again holding a monologue that puts half of the students to sleep. My focus is on my notebook, sometimes I draw and sometimes jot some random words Mike says a little bit louder, making me wake up from daydreaming.
My eyes are tired, and my wild curls are tightened in a bun. Today I couldn’t straighten my hair. If that wasn’t enough, I’m also covered in boring clothes which should’ve been replaced with the clothes Gideon keeps at his place. The one day I don’t drop by his place in the mornings, he leaves me looking like a high school nerd no one wants to sit beside.
He suddenly drops on the empty chair beside me and puts a strand of his shoulder-length hair behind his ear, “Oh my God, you look like...” before he finishes the sentence, I give him a death stare.
“You better have a good excuse!” I whisper-shout at him and turn back to my scribbles.
When we exit the lecture hall, he makes another attempt to comment on my outfit, but I don’t let him, “Just so you know, this is your fault! What’s your excuse?”
“I had the best sex ever last night and I overslept...” he pouts at me and I remember about his date last night, how could I forget?
“Oh my God. You had sex with him?!” my voice gets loud out of excitement, causing some people’s gaze to fix on us. He rubs his eyes embarrassed and drags me away from the middle of the corridor.
“Let’s just go to my place and get you out of these hideous clothes. We can crash there for the entire day because I need sleep.” Well, of course, by the entire day he means the entire time we must spend at college so my parents won’t come with detectives to find me.
“Wait, you didn’t bring me the clothes I told you to bring me? Gideon, I have to go to that job in an hour!” My hands covered my face, unable to process that I would have to go dressed in clothes that show no class, just a girl who has no taste for fashion whatsoever. I can’t wear skirts unless they reach my ankles, so I’m forced to always dress in my boring jeans with no rips. Only plain black jeans, who aren’t even skinny jeans that would hug my legs perfectly, because other colors and styles make my legs stand out and it’s a sin to tempt guys into wanting you. A white oversized shirt was covering my upper body because again, God is against cleavages. At least my parents say so! And come on, if God can see me in public and at home, I’m sure he’s seen me naked many times to agree that I should wear flattering clothes. Sorry, not sorry!
“Ok, we’ll go there quick and I’ll just give you a ride to this job.” He looks at me with his brown eyes who are apologizing for screwing up this morning.
I arrive at the mansion five minutes late, mistake number one. At least I look good. High heels, white skinny jeans and a much more flattering shirt with black and white stripes, that reveals enough to remain classy. Of course, I’m not crazy and I have spare shoes in my bag to change into while working. My tar black hair is also straightened now and nicely going past my shoulders.
When I step out of the car, I get amazed by the glorious modern mansion before me and I spot a woman standing at the entrance.
She is tall with brown long hair that reaches her waist. She’s got an hourglass shape and wears a white pencil skirt and a top with a cropped royal blue blazer over it.
“Ms. Archer, I assume.” She says displeased by my delay and I also assume she is Jane Patrick, the woman on the phone.
“I apologize for being late. I got stuck in traffic.” Using the same excuse as the rest of the world is not the best when you’re trying to make a good impression. We shake hands, and she raises an eyebrow at me.
“And the truth?”
“I took too much to get ready,” I tell her the truth, looking apologetical and she smiles, pleased.
“Never lie on your first day!” she advises me causing me to nod. She is strict but I notice that she is also friendly, just like she sounded on the phone at times, which is a relief.
After she explains to me everything there is to be explained she leaves me to it. She told me about the order in Mr. Hayden’s house which must be respected. She showed me where everything can be found and the fact that I cannot eat anything from the fridge if I’m hungry. The only toilet I can use are the toilets for staff. Also, I must be finished until he comes home at five p.m., which means I will never meet the man who is extremely obsessive about the order of things in his house.
I start working and as I keep exploring the mansion while cleaning, I notice a few pictures with a man in his fifties probably and without doubt, the owner of the house. A man who looks like he’s got an order in his life, a man whose picture you don’t want to mess with. It kind of terrifies me a little to look longer at it so, I keep trying to avoid staring at the pictures and start hoovering with my earphones on at a very loud volume. It takes me over half an hour to hoover the whole mansion. Before finishing, I almost hoover the same room twice thinking it’s a different one.
This job was a bad choice, Cinderella! My tired mind attacks me and when I’m finished, I sit on the couch for a few seconds. Exhausted from all the work I had to perform today, my tiredness takes control and before I know I am fast asleep on the couch.
When I wake up, it is because I am shaken up by a man. Not an old one, not Mr. Hayden, but a God! And I know this is probably not the best way to word it, seeing that my parents would see God as a man who doesn’t make you want to sin. Let’s think of him being a Greek God, instead, Cindy. His grey eyes are watching me coming back to reality, he is tall and wears a black suit that fits him perfectly. He’s got sharp features and thick brown hair that sits like a perfect mess at the top of his head. Fuck, Cindy, he’s hot! The freaking voice in my mind does not help me now, in fact, it makes me want to bury myself alive. Who cares? What is he doing here?!
“Who are you?!” I stand up in shock and move away from Eros, who looks at me like I have committed a crime and must be put in jail. But if the jail is in his bedroom, count me in!
“Who am I? Who are you? I live here!” his deep, angered voice sends shivers down my spine. Shit, Cindy, this could be Mr. Hayden. Why isn’t he old?! I panic at the thought and step back once again, covering my face in embarrassment.
“I’m Alissa Archer, I just started working here. I’m so sorry! This...” I point my finger to the couch, “Is SO unprofessional!” If he fires me, it’s understandable. It wouldn’t be the first time this month. I quickly start fixing the place.
He sighs, watching me with rage, “Ms. Archer, did Jane not initiate you at all?”
“She did, I apologize, it won’t happen again.” My eyes are shifted to his grey ones and for a few seconds, which feel like decades, we look in each other’s eyes like there is something we’re searching for in them.
“I should probably go.” I grab my things, breaking eye contact with him while I still could and before I can go, he grabs my wrist. The touch of his fingers sends thrills through my body. Run, Cindy!
“Expect a call from Jane before coming back tomorrow.” He says. His voice sharp, the rage is radiating for him and any second longer with his hand around my wrist is a second I spend trying to control myself. I should run like my mind keeps telling me, but when standing before Eros, leaving is not what I want to do. Now, this is the most outrageous thought, Cindy! I’m not accusing myself because this outrageous thing is what I have been waiting for. It’s the payback! Too bad this might also be the last day at this job.
I just nod and look at his hand waiting for him to let it go, “Um...Can I go now?”
“By all means,” he’s hand lets go of my wrist and the absence of his touch instantly making me sad. How am I going to get you to be mine, Eros? How are you going to help me with my payback?
“See you,” I say before even thinking about it and of course, he has to comment on it.
“Part of your job is to never see me, Ms. Archer. Have a good night.” He’s words stab me. I have to see him again, he’s perfect! Hell, my parents would disown me for this!
Stay away from Eros, Cindy. I say to myself like a broken record, knowing that to remain employed here long enough for my plan to work, my desires must remain locked in a safe with a code that I forgot.
Good luck with that, Cindy!